WINTERHOUSE

Young Elizabeth Somers’ predilection for puzzles is put to the test when she spends a Christmas break alone at the enormous Winterhouse Hotel.

Elizabeth, white, an orphan, and a devoted reader, has a recently discovered magical gift of extrasensory awareness and anticipation. When her guardian aunt and uncle depart for a vacation, leaving only a train ticket and three $1 bills duct-taped to the door, Elizabeth embarks on an extraordinary adventure. Guterson provides readers a treat: mean caregivers à la the Dursleys; a vast, luxurious hotel where oddities abound; a new word-puzzle–loving friend, Freddy Knox (with black hair and dark brown skin from his Mexican mother; his father’s heritage goes unmentioned); a shrouded history for Winterhouse; and sinister circumstances. A grim pair of guests, protective of the large trunk they claim is full of books, seem to have Elizabeth in their sights. The hotel’s kindly proprietor, a descendent of the original founder, seems to have his own magical talents. The vast hotel library (run by a Ugandan-born librarian with a bun and a fondness for old-fashioned card catalogs) is full of potential surprises. Guterson keeps his protagonists busy discovering clues to the hotel’s central mystery, a missing book, and the decades-old disappearance of the proprietor’s sister, who apparently dabbled in the black arts. Chapter titles incorporate word ladders that may have young readers trying out this diverting form of puzzle.

Clever and captivating. (Mystery/fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-12388-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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